Thursday, July 18, 2013

Obama fails again.

When Edward Snowden revealed the extent of NSA surveillance of foreign countries, President Obama was called upon to  address the issue at a press conference in Africa.  The following quote is part of what he had to say.

"We should stipulate that every intelligence service – not just ours, but every European intelligence service, every Asian intelligence service, wherever there's an intelligence service … here's one thing that they're going to be doing: they're going to be trying to understand the world better and what's going on in world capitals," he told a press conference during a long-scheduled trip Tanzania. "If that weren't the case, then there'd be no use for an intelligence service."
"And I guarantee you that in European capitals, there are people who are interested in, if not what I had for breakfast, at least what my talking points might be should I end up meeting with their leaders. That's how intelligence services operate," Obama added.
Nevertheless, he acknowledged concern over the revelations in Der Spiegel and the Guardian and said the National Security Agency would evaluate the claims and will then inform allies about the allegations.
"What I've said to my team is: take a look at this article, figure out what they may or may not be talking about, and then we'll communicate to our allies appropriately," Obama said.
As the White House seeks to contain the diplomatic fallout from the controversy, Obama also sought to reassure fellow world leaders that the scale of US espionage against friendly nations did not signify a lack of trust.
"I'm the end user of this kind of intelligence," he said. "And if I want to know what Chancellor Merkel is thinking, I will call Chancellor Merkel. If I want to know President Hollande is thinking on a particular issue, I'll call President Hollande. And if I want to know what, you know, David Cameron's thinking, I call David Cameron. Ultimately, you know, we work so closely together that there's almost no information that's not shared between our various countries."

"Disingenuous" is too kind a word to apply to this verbal tripe.  Besides, disingenuous has been applied to so many of Obama's explanations during his 4-1/2 year Presidency that it is no longer valid. It is an excuse.  The man deceives and spins and dances away from the truth.

At least Obama is consistent.  He tells foreign heads of state the same nonsense he tells us.  Obama wants us to believe that, because he is "the end user of this kind (italics mine) of intelligence," they and we have nothing to fear.  After all, he is saying, I am the Leader of the Free World.  Trust me.

Bullshit, I say.  President Obama, I don't believe anything you say.  I don't trust you at all.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Daniel Ellsberg on Edward Snowden

Below is a quote from Daniel Ellsberg as it appeared in the Washington Post.  The complete article can be read here.
What I find most interesting in Ellsberg's remarks is the difference in available physical freedom between his time and the times we live in now.  Think how much more effctive Snowden could be if he were permitted to speak to the American public.

" Yet when I surrendered to arrest in Boston, having given out my last copies of the papers the night before, I was released on personal recognizance bond the same day. Later, when my charges were increased from the original three counts to 12, carrying a possible 115-year sentence, my bond was increased to $50,000. But for the whole two years I was under indictment, I was free to speak to the media and at rallies and public lectures. I was, after all, part of a movement against an ongoing war. Helping to end that war was my preeminent concern. I couldn’t have done that abroad, and leaving the country never entered my mind.
There is no chance that experience could be reproduced today, let alone that a trial could be terminated by the revelation of White House actions against a defendant that were clearly criminal in Richard Nixon’s era — and figured in his resignation in the face of impeachment — but are today all regarded as legal (including an attempt to “incapacitate me totally”).
I hope Snowden’s revelations will spark a movement to rescue our democracy, but he could not be part of that movement had he stayed here. There is zero chance that he would be allowed out on bail if he returned now and close to no chance that, had he not left the country, he would have been granted bail. Instead, he would be in a prison cell like Bradley Manning, incommunicado.
He would almost certainly be confined in total isolation, even longer than the more than eight months Manning suffered during his three years of imprisonment before his trial began recently. The United Nations Special Rapporteur for Torture described Manning’s conditions as “cruel, inhuman and degrading.” (That realistic prospect, by itself, is grounds for most countries granting Snowden asylum, if they could withstand bullying and bribery from the United States.)"

Friday, July 5, 2013

Saying Grace in a public place

I found this essay on Front Porch Republic.  I recommend it for reading.   But, first, take a moment to study the picture below the link.


Thursday, July 4, 2013

What are we celebrating today?

Today is the 4th of July.  I don't feel like celebrating.  Here's why.

Since 9/11 the United States Postal Service has been photographing and storing the images of billions of pieces of 1st class mail under the auspices of a program called Mail Isolation Control and Tracking Program.  I wonder what that program costs.  Such information is probably classified as SECRET.
How did we find out about this program?  The information "seeped" from the FBI during their search for the source of the ricin-tainted letters mailed to the White House & Congress.  "Seeped" is very different from "leaked."  You may go to jail for the last one while getting a mention in newspapers for the first.

Then, challenged by the neo-cons and hawks to use American POWER to get countries to cough up Edward Snowden, the administration watched from behind the scenes as allies forced a landing of the plane carrying the President of Bolivia who was returning home after an official mission.
Think of that.  A Head of State, a President of a sovereign nation was forced to land to see if the fugitive Snowden was aboard his plane.  I hope the blowback from that arrogant act lasts 100 years.

Now I understand why Assange and Snowden fear returning to the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.  This corrupt and rotten administration, like the last administration,  is capable of anything.

Tonight there will be noise from fireworks on every block.  Their use is illegal but with a nudge and a wink the police know there is nothing to be done.  The local news will remind viewers to keep their cats and dogs inside so they don't break away from fear and get lost.  Viewers are also reminded to cover the cages of their pet birds as the explosions cause some birds to throw themselves against the cage.  Out in the western part of the county, what we call 'horse country,' nervous horses will be given light tranquilizer doses to help them cope.
Patti and I will take turns holding our dog Mia who shivers and shakes from fear.  We'll play music at louder than normal levels to disguise the explosions.  Slowly the noises will taper off and stop, usually around 1:00 AM.  Then we can sleep and wake up tomorrow with a return to normalcy in the outside world, i.e., return from stupid to venal.